Sunday, January 11, 2015

DuneCraft Dusty Desert Cacti Microterrarium: A Review!

Years ago, on a request from a friend who was looking at buying a few of this product for her kids, we figured I'd try it out first, the DuneCraft Dusty Desert Cacti. I've successfully grown cacti and succulents from seed before, so may have of cheated with some knowledge that the typical consumer would not have, (explained later below.)

First, I spent a lot of time online looking for reviews, mostly to see if it was even worth trying. I couldn't find one single review with pictures of successfully grown cacti from this product. So here I am, apparently it's gonna be me. There were a mix of satisfied and unsatisfied customers reviews, but only about germination, nothing long term. What about if the novelty doesn't wear off? So I bought one. For $2.99 I figured no big loss if it didn't work. These can be purchased online or most hobby stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's.

When I opened up the product it's basically a plastic egg, (actual egg sized) with a clear top, a tiny disk of peat wrapped in some netting, and a package of seeds. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture, but Click here for one. The one I bought had 6 seeds. From reading the reviews it's variable how many you'll actually get, but the package said it's supposed to have 5 types of cacti. I decided to follow the instructions as close as possible. If I'm going to be the one to review the thing, I have to do it right.

Ok, so what are the seeds it comes with?
1.) Giant Saguaro (Carnegia gigantea)
2.) Organ Pipe (Lemaireocereus Thurberii) nope, it's Stenocereus thurberi. The packaging was off here, along with typos, I'll let the taxonomy slide.
3.) Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
4.) Fishhook Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus Wislenzeni) nope, it's wislizeni, but close.

I know, I shouldn't be a pain over typos and taxonomy errors, but come on, that's 3 errors in 4 sentences. Seriously, it seems like no one over there even bothered to google the names or look them up in a book. I will give them a huge round of applause for attempting to give the consumer the scientific names though, and not just the common ones. Then there's the fact that the label says "5 types of cacti seeds included." I don't know if anyone else has been counting thus far, but I only count 4.

Back on 5/5/12....It begins....

I guess the species they picked germinate fast or I got a fresh batch, as these were up in about 1.5 weeks. Not much to photograph, but a little green was a good sign.

7/5/12.... 3 months later....

I moved the terrarium out of the windowsill and under artificial light, as I got some eliotated (stretched) seelings. The instructions say windowsill and I tried to follow them as close as possible to keep this as close to what the average consumer has to go on, but my windowsills were too shady.

I lost one seed. It didn't germinate and started to mold so I had to get it out of there. I only took the top off to add a tiny bit of water once in 3 months.

But there's good news! They are finally starting to look like cacti. These seedlings start off looking like little green nubs with a forked top. Now they're starting to get some spines.

Dunecraft Dusty Desert Cacti
Without flash. You can see one falling over from getting eliotated.
Dunecraft Dusty Desert Cacti
With flash to see the spines better

I originally wrote this up years ago, and then decided against publishing it for various reasons. Then, I got an email from my friend and her daughter with pictures of  many beautiful baby cacti that her daughter is absolutely in love with. We may have created a cacti fan for life due in part to this experiment with this product. So although this product review is a little critical, it is a positive one because we all do have cacti growing.

A little under a year old, 4/5/13:

A little taller than my now dirty finger
The egg terrarium was knocked over by a cat and I was forced to repot. One was knocked off it's roots entirely, hence the rebagging. It'll be just fine. Still dealing with the results of the eliotation, but they will grow out of it as they're in an appropriate amount of sun now, ( the slightly pink tint.) However, they could have totally stayed in that egg for the year.


Same pot as 2013 picture above, needs repotting badly!

For anyone interested in this product review, I'll continue to update on this page as growth continues. If anyone reading this finds something unclear or has any questions about this product, feel free to leave a comment here (anonymously or otherwise) or email me. I will do my best to help, even if you're coming across this years later. I figure at least now there is an actual product review out there at all. Despite my initial criticisms I think this, and the other DuneCraft products, are a wonderful way to teach kids about growing things. I think it's a valuable experience for people of all ages really no matter how you chose to do it. Hey, I'm an adult and I am still having fun growing them! Also I love trying these products, so if there's something you want me to try and grow, let me know and I'll review it for everyone.


  1. Is there a way to tell which seeds will turn into which type of cactus?
    Thanks for the help! :)

    1. That's a tough one. Identifying cacti seeds might be possible because there are only a few possibilities (that is, if the company is true to their packaging claims.) However, you'd probably really need an expert for something like that. Seeds can look different from different species, but identifying which one's belong to all of the listed species isn't something I can do.

      Do all your seeds look exactly the same or are they different sizes, shapes, colors? At least if the're are some minor differences you know you've got a variety. Mine all looked exactly the same, and it turned out they were all the same!

  2. They look pretty similar. A couple a slightly smaller. I planted the smallest one on Sunday, so we'll see how long it takes to grow. Also, I got 4 seeds in my pack and my brother got 7 in his! (So I guess the number you get really does vary.) We're going to use them as office/work plants. (P.S. thanks for the reply!)

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  4. I have one of these and I was wondering if you could give me all of your advice on it. I only have one and she's turning a bit pink. how often should I water and can the pot be too big? and what about winter should I take her inside? Im very proud of my cactus and want to take good care of her. oh and my cactus looks just like yours but what kind is that? thank you!

    1. Sorry for the late response, but turning a bit pink is OK. As far as taking it inside, that depends entirely on how old the seedlings are as well as how cold it gets where you live. Seedlings under a year old do better kept moist and warm for best growth though. The pot size doesn't matter as long as it doesn't hold soo much water that they stay perpetually wet as they get older as it can rot them. These seeds turned out to all be "Golden Barrel" so that may be likely that's what yours are too.

  5. I just bought one of these! I only got 3 seeds in mine though... Anyway I love the progress pictuAnyway thanks for updating